The Dom Post editorial:
Many Kiwis will question whether the engagement in a conflict 13,000 kilometres away was worth such a high cost. Others will question whether now is the right time for the PRT to pull out, given the Taliban remains strong in the northeast of Bamiyan, and Afghanistan’s future remains uncertain.
However, there is no denying that New Zealand was right to join the international efforts to confront al Qaeda and weaken it to the point where it no longer posed a grave threat to innocent people all around the world. The horrific September 11 attacks on the United States showed the terrorist organisation’s intent and capabilities. It had to be crippled. That mission, at least, has been accomplished.
It was also right to send the PRT to help sow the seeds of democracy and stability in Bamiyan. Likewise, now is the right time to come home.
The PRT has done everything that could have been reasonably expected of it given the harsh and dangerous conditions in which our troops were asked to operate. They have improved medical facilities, built roads and bridges and created the conditions for some semblance of what Kiwis would regard as a normal life to flourish.
Its presence has resulted in the opening of hundreds of schools, seen a rise in the number of girls getting an education and laid the foundations for improved infrastructure and a big improvement in health outcomes. Perhaps most importantly, the deployment has given the people of Bamiyan the confidence to believe they can be masters of their own destiny.
It is difficult to see what more could be achieved by the PRT remaining, and the reality is that the looming withdrawal of the rest of the international community in 2014 makes it impossible for it to stay in any case.
What annoys me most about Afghanistan is it was Labour who sent in the SAS (which was the right decision), and renewed their mission several times. Then the moment they are in Opposition they attack the Government for keeping the SAS there.